You and I versus We and Us

Limited communication in a stressful environment can sometimes cause friction - it is almost a must at some point. Tom and I rarely "fight" I can probably count all the times we have fought on one hand, and it would most certainly be less than five. While we have disagreements we try not to get them to turn into a fight and that can be the sticky part for a lot of relationships.

This week along Tom has been "on one," he just hasn't seemed happy, he's grumpy and really negative. Times like these are hard to deal with especially for them. The letters I did get this week weren't as nice as usual and Tom just seems to be focusing the negative of this lifestyle then what I call the "long run." Of course I have no idea what it is like to be in jail, or even arrested for that matter so I have no idea what its like to serve over a year in prison, be transferred to six different facilities in a month and to sit - sit not knowing when you will be able to come home, start a family and especially for what he is "in" for now. So of course to him it seems to unfair and to me its unfair but I am on the outside so it is easier for me to say, "Everything will be okay." Tom is right I do get to get up and go to work in the morning, see my friends, go to lunch, do whatever I want - while he can't.

We can't sit and really discuss an issue its either a 15-minute phone call or a letter that will take at least a day to arrive. So Tom and I have kind of "adopted" ways of communicating to keep us "moving." A couple can't always get along and if they never argue or have a disagreement - I have to question that! But Tom and I are like most and do. When something happens the best we can do is talk about it and work it. Like recently I went to see Tom, first time in a year, the night before our 9 a.m. visit, I went out with friends. Not only did we go out but we closed the bar down didn't get back to our hotel room until 3 a.m. and I got what I call "shitty drunk." I had to get up at 6:30 a.m. so with just a few hours of sleep I got up took a shower and was on time for my visit, of course I looked tired and Tom and I talked about. He wasn't happy about the situation - he wasn't happy that I got drunk and went out. And not necessarily that I went out it was the fact that I went out the night before seeing him in a year and got way too intoxicated. 

While Tom does have trust issues thanks to past relationships I have always been extremely open and honest with everything that I do. So me going out all night raised an issue when those were two things Tom really did not want me to do - be out all night and get drunk. And Tom is not controlling by any means, does not tell me what to do or not to do - there are just boundaries in a relationship and we have gotten really good at expressing what we are comfortable with! 

So when Tom told me was a disappointed in me - ugh - worst words, right? Its one thing to be mad or upset - but disappointed? Horrible. We kinda touched on the subject at visit but we didn't let it put a damper on our visit, thankfully but it continued a few days later in our phone calls and letters. I can understand why Tom was disappointed, I don't have excuses but then again I didn't do anything "wrong." So what do we do? 

First I apologize, sometimes its better to just say you're sorry then act like you "shouldn't have to." Lets be honest sometimes saying "I'm sorry" is so much easier then having to fight about not saying it on top of another fight. And if it continues - its important to stay calm. Fighting seems to escalate when voices escalate. At some point I can longer say anything or do anything to make the situation better so I have to allow my husband to "get over it" on his own time. 

One thing that I think is a "trend" in our situation is the "game." Of course in a perfect situation (in this lifestyle) I would get a loving, caring, romantic letter accompanied by a phone call full of laughter and love but that isn't always the case. I have bad days, Tom has bad days and we are one another's best friends but sometimes that means we sometimes take the brunt of everything else. So if I am writing Tom more than he is writing me, vice versa or didn't call me when he was suppose to I don't think of him "owing" me because aren't we in this together? Things happen and sometimes I honestly don't feel like writing him and I don't want to talk but I always answer the call because I never know if he is "okay" or just needs to "vent." One thing that is important to me is not to "punish" Tom. When he does something, says something, doesn't do something - whether it is writing, calling - whatever it may be I do not want to punish him. He is being punished enough and me not writing him or ignoring his calls won't solve anything because once we do talk, we will have to talk about the not writing and not answering so to me its pointless and takes way to much energy then just talking about it and moving forward. 

Something that has really helped us is listening, which can be hard for a lot of couples. Listening takes effort and a lot of practice - something that has taken awhile for me to learn. Listening to your partner is key which means not talking. Allowing him to speak his mind, even if you want to debate it you have to let them finish! Sometimes this is the hardest part because with 15-minute calls you want to be able to get your two cents in.        Using the words "you" and "I" can be lethal. Using "you" can come off attacking which may have the other get defensive. You did this. You said that or when I did that, I said this. I try to say "it seems" or "its like" or even "I think," its not to abrupt in communicating. If that makes sense. Once you get defensive its like a bomb goes off and anything after that is downhill. Something I read awhile ago is to never use these two words  "always" and "never." Those two words can set you up for failure. Period. Saying "I will never" or "I always" its kind of like lying because chances are you might just do or say that one thing, said you would never do and won't say or do the thing you said you always will. Two words to stay clear of! 

Remember to pick and choose your "battles." What will really make a difference and what won't. Not everything is worth the fight or disagreement! 

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